Health Minister Andy Kerr has stressed that there will be no major change in policy over hospital reform.
Andy Kerr is one of the first minister's trusted allies
Speaking on the steps of Bute House after his appointment was announced, the former finance minister admitted he had inherited "a big challenge".
Mr Kerr said that he and new deputy Rhona Brankin would "work very hard to make this service what the people of Scotland expect it to be".
But asked about hospital cuts, he said: "There is no big change of policy."
He stressed: "This is about listening and ensuring that we deliver the service for the people of Scotland."
His predecessor Malcolm Chisholm, who was switched to communities in First Minister Jack McConnell's reshuffle, had been under pressure over changes being proposed across the country.
On Saturday, politicians and members of the public held a rally in Glasgow to oppose health cuts, hospital closures and the centralisation of services.
Last week Mr Chisholm avoided a no confidence motion in the Scottish Parliament over his handling of the situation.
Mr Kerr acknowledged that he and Ms Brankin were facing a "very big political challenge".
Health Minister: Andy Kerr
Deputy Health Minister: Rhona Brankin
Finance Minister: Tom McCabe
Parliament Minister: Margaret Curran
Culture, Sport, Tourism Minister: Patricia Ferguson
Communities Minister: Malcolm Chisholm
His deputy said she was "delighted" to be returning to the ministerial team.
"I look forward to the challenge of the health debate. It's a fascinating area to be working in," she said.
The 54-year-old was deputy minister for culture and sport before taking on the deputy's role at environment and rural development in 2000.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer that same year and successfully underwent surgery.
In March 2001 her effigy was burnt in public by angry fishermen amid controversy over decommissioning.
Ms Brankin lost ministerial office in November of that year after Mr McConnell was appointed as first minister.
Mr Kerr held the post of finance minister since that same reshuffle, which followed the resignation of Henry McLeish.
Only last week he announced the results of a spending review which will see annual investment in the health service top £10bn by 2008.
Mr Kerr will now oversee the spending of that cash while aiming to ease public concerns over hospital reform.
Malcolm Chisholm has been moved to communities
He has been an MSP since 1999, when he was elected in the East Kilbride constituency.
A trusted ally of Mr McConnell, he also played a key role in last year's Holyrood election campaign.
Like his successor, Mr Chisholm had been in the same position since Mr McConnell took over as first minister.
The 55-year-old was first elected at Westminster in 1992 as MP for Leith in Edinburgh.
He was appointed under-secretary at the Scottish Office after being re-elected in the re-named Edinburgh North and Leith constituency in 1997.
However, he then became the first New Labour minister to quit over the government's decision to maintain Tory cuts to lone parent benefits.
He was elected as an MSP in 1999 and was appointed deputy health minister by Henry McLeish in October 2000.
He was promoted by Mr McConnell the following year, then named Herald Politician of the Year in 2002.